Metaphors and Tips to Inspire You to Be a Better Software Engineer
Where are you right now?
Yes, you’re looking at a screen reading this. But where are you in your career and life?
If you could change anything, would you?
“I would tell my younger self to start learning programming much earlier,” says Andrew, a Test Automation Engineer at VEON.
“I think my childhood self would be cool with my adult self. He would give a fist pump. Perhaps I would say never settle. It’s important to remember our lives are a flow. Whatever decisions we make bring us to where we are,” explains Adnan, a DevOps engineer.
“I’m happy with my path. I would advise my childhood self to understand mistakes are made, but what’s crucial is to learn from those mistakes,” notes Julia, an iOS Developer.
Now that we have some big picture advice, let’s get into the details. During our conversation with Andrew, Adnan, and Julia, we get great metaphors and tips for having success as a software engineer.
Can you describe your roles at VEON?
I’m a part of the operations team, working as a DevOps engineer. It’s a pretty dynamic role that requires a mix of hard and soft skills. My goal is to essentially make sure the app gets increasingly better.
I’m a test automation engineer. Right now, we are developing tools that will help both developers and testers write and maintain automated tests. We also continue to grow our test coverage both front-end ( iOS, Android) and back-end (the VEON platform and our operating countries API integration testing).
Meet Andrew, a senior test automation engineer at VEON. We had an awesome conversation with him and want to share his…medium.com
I’m an iOS developer. Now, I’m mainly working on the self-care function. Our whole goal is to make life easy and seamless for our users. We’re getting to where we want to be, but there’s still more improvements needed.
The VEON app just launched in many major markets. How does it feel?
It was a tough process, but it’s out there now. We must remember nothing stops, though. There is no big boom. We’re going to have to make continual tweaks. The app is like a child — we have to help it grow into something incredible.
It’s out there, but there’s still work to do. I’m excited about building it into something better.
At times, the journey to launch felt like a sprint. We must remember that creating a successful app is more like a marathon. So we must pace accordingly. The key now is establishing a sustainable method for consistently improving the product. We must function like good marathon runners — we must know how to stay ahead of the competition while maintaining stability.
How did you arrive to VEON?
I went to National Aviation University in Kyiv, Ukraine, where I studied aviation systems. After school, I ended up getting a job in software testing. While working remotely from Ko Samui, I got into test automation. I came to the Netherlands and eventually found this role with VEON. I like being in Amsterdam — you can have a nice work-life balance. I live near Westerpark, and I often buy some sweets and just relax there with my wife.
I’m from Ukraine. I studied computer science in school. I first came to the Netherlands to work for a telecom company in Rotterdam. VEON got in touch with me and I signed on to work here because it’s exciting to build all this from scratch. I’m living in Leiden now — it’s a cozy, charming city with amazing architecture. It’s nice to be able to chill there when I’m not working.
I’m from Bosnia. I went to university in the USA, then got a job with eBuddy in Amsterdam. Later, a VEON recruiter contacted me, just saying let’s talk about a job. I was like, “Yeah, let’s talk.” Now, I’m here at VEON and it’s cool to have such an impact on millions of lives. Amsterdam is also cool to live and work because there are so many places like IJ Brewery, where you can have a drink and just take it easy with friends.
Why did you choose software engineering?
‘It’s like being a god — you get to create something from nothing. “
As a kid, I loved playing computer games. But my dad installed something to prevent me from playing. So I figured out how to disable that software and continue playing. From there, I started becoming more interested in computer science.
As a kid, I was constantly searching for hacks to crack computer games. That’s where my passion began.
How do you learn programming languages?
It takes time, but you can do it. I started with C++, then learned Objective-C.
It’s like learning Latin before studying other languages. Most programming experts will tell you there’s an underlying foundation between programming languages. If you learn one, then it’s easier to learn another.
Understand how languages operate. Don’t ever be satisfied — keep on learning.
How do you improve?
Never sit down. Never settle — even if you think you’re the best. That’s why I came to VEON. We’re building from scratch and there’s a lot of freedom and room for growth.
It’s midnight in London. You’re having a good time at the pub. You’re about to leave, but you realize you don’t have a…medium.com
Find the place where you’ll be the worst on the team. That’s where you have the most opportunity to improve.
Learn new things constantly — and go to places where you can do that. Now, I’m learning Scala and Swift with guidance from our developers. Also, build soft skills, especially communication and collaboration skills.
How can products be improved?
Getting feedback from users is essential. At VEON, we also must communicate and listen to opcos (operating countries), as they know the market best.
We need to look at data from lots of users. This is how we can understand real problems. We should create solutions based on solving those issues.
It’s important to remember that nothing ever truly works perfectly, that tweaks are always needed. Collaboration is also crucial — because good ideas come from anywhere.
Being the best software engineer you can be. BE TRULY FREE.
When Adnan, Julia, and Andrew aren’t making magic happen at VEON, they’re enjoying life in Amsterdam — a truly great setting for working as a software engineer.
You may find Andrew playing video games or basketball, or snapping great photos of Amsterdam. Adnan could be bicycling around the city, checking out all there is to see. And Julia might be relaxing and reading at one of Leiden’s peaceful locations.
That brings us to the last point: Work hard to get where you want to go, but take time to enjoy yourself along the way.
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